This is TULA

In the wake of the excitement about trans model Lea T,  and outrage over moronic bookstores Barnes + Noble and Borders pulling Andrej Pejic’s genderfucking Dossier cover (an independent bookstore would never do that – just saying) it is time to throw some attention on one of our trans modeling foremothers, the awesome 1980s inter-sexpot TULA. I don’t think TULA is really spelled TULA, I think it’s meant to be Tula, but doesn’t it just scream to be TULA? If not TULA or TULA? You all know Tula. She was the video vixen in The Power Station’s Some Like it Hot video back in the 80s, shaving herself and getting her hair done and whatnot, all with mismatched neon eyeshadow, insanely great clothes, and massive feral-woman hair. Hotttttt.  So we are all on the same page:

Lea T sucking face with Kate Moss on the most recent cover of Love magazine


 John Taylor ‘s foxiness stands the test of time. More on that later.

Cuddling with a Cabbage Patch Kid. It was the 80s!

Tula was an English model who worked as a showgirl in Paris and Italy through her transition – and when I mean showgirl, I mean, like Nomy Malone-style showgirl! In the Pigalle in Paris! Okay I made that up, but where else does one perform as a showgirl in Paris, hmmm? I bet Tula was shaking her can-can at the Moulin Rouge! As for Italy, well, it may have been the more common dance so many of us ladies have danced whilst making a dollar. But whether her burlesque be on the high end or low end, Tula moved out of the cabarets and into the world of modeling!

You guys! It was the 80s!

Okay, Tula was mostly a ‘glamour model’ which I didn’t even know was a genre of modeling because Tyra never talks about it, but Wikipedia insists that it exists – it’s basically soft core sexy lady shoots. She modeled for Australian Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, but she modeled for Playboy as well.

Wicker - why is it so erotic?

Thanks to the internet obsessive for creepily circling Tula in red .

Tula was cast as a Bond Girl in the 007 For Your Eyes Only. Just typing that has sunk that fucking Sheena Easton song in my head very powerfully. Because I feel like maybe Tula and Sheena would have been awesome besties  – imagine it. ‘Hey, call up Tula and Sheena and see if they want to come over and lay by the pool!’ – I would like to include a photo of Ms. Easton:

It was the 80s! Everything was so much better. Except for, you know, politics.

Okay, back to TULA.

Models! They're just like us! They iron their own clothes!

Let us all take a moment to appreciate Tula’s flowered Spandex. They look so good with that silky sea foam green top! Pause and take in the outline of the shoulder pads. Thank you.

Tula wasn’t out as being trans, because it’s none of anybody’s goddamn business, but then some tabloid creeps outed her and she had to deal with a bunch of bullshit. She selected the classy strategy of writing a book! Getting literary and making a dollar off the bullshit!

I am a Woman came out in 1982. Her editor would not let her publish it under it’s full title, I am a Woman, Assholes. In 1991 she published her second memoir, My Story, under her regular, non-showbiz name, Caroline Cossey.

I’m obsessed with the shift in Tula’s bangs between 1982, when she was sort of sexy-swoopy-Jerry Hall, to 1991, when she was pumping her bangs like a High School girl who snuck out of the house with her Republican mom’s bulky clip-on earrings. Oh, 80s. We miss you.

Just hanging out on a chair, striking an alluring pose.

Like any European model, Tula had an exciting love life. Her first husband was an Italian Count (duh), who encouraged her to fight for her rights in her homeland – Britain would not recognize trans women as women until the early 00’s, but Tula was fighting it out in the court system for decades before that. She got The Man to recognize her marriage to her second husband, a businessman, as legal, only to see a judge later overturn the ruling. Her third husband seems to be just a regular guy (he’s Canadian) and they live humbly together in the dirty south.

The Loch Ness Monster! Models get to meet everyone.


About Michelle Tea

I chanted "I am a fashion magnet" in the shower and subsequently found a Gianni Versace - era Versace skirt at Buffalo Exchange for $17. Once I got a beyond-my-means Fendi purse for free and sat staring at it, crying. Also cried at Olivier Theyskens' last show for Nina Ricci in Paris. Other things that make me cry: a good lip synch; my emotions. I have stolen two Jeremy Scott swag items from two Jeremy Scott events I was not quite invited to. Sometimes I want to age into Patti Smith, sometimes Baby Jane Hudson. I frequently dream I am in a magic thrift store where I can have whatever I want. I regret not buying the Alexander Wang purse when it was half price at Barney's. Like a delusional guy at a strip club, I feel special when the people who work at Barney's remember me. Having a Leo rising gives me big hair and a need for attention. My favorite designers right now are Alexander Wang, Philip Lim, Proenza Schouler, Vivienne Westwood, Viktor Rolf, Rick Owens, Rodarte, Helmut Lang and Surface to Air. I was once shamed by an employee of a high-end department store for pronouncing 'Rodarte' incorrectly.

One comment

  1. Pingback: [Tula/Literary] Salus Populi Est Suprema Lex – | Human Rights Online Philippines

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